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June 2020 – Cataract Awareness Month

Posted by Jan Payne on June 7, 2020

the image shows a close up of a blue eye

Photo by Amanda Dalbjörn on Unsplash

Now that the COVID-19 pandemic is loosening its grip slightly, and the UK Government has begun to ease the lockdown further, we can start catching up with everyday jobs that we might have put to one side a few weeks ago. One thing we haven’t been doing for the past couple of months is visiting our doctor, dentist, or opticians to discuss any health concerns we might have or have our usual check-ups.

As June is Cataract Awareness Month, now is the perfect time to get our eyesight checked, particularly if we have problems like focusing, or an increasing loss of vision. If any reduction in eyesight is caused because you have a cataract, it’s important to get it diagnosed correctly and then it can be rectified without too much stress.

It’s estimated that in the UK, 30% of people aged 65 years and over have a cataract in one, or both eyes, causing some level of visual impairment. The reason is that cataracts form a cloud over the lens of the eye preventing light from getting through and reducing the level of vision. If you are unable to see clearly, this can lead to other issues, such as trips and falls, which in turn can lead to broken bones and bruises.

So, the things to look out for include…
• … a feeling you have a film over your eyes which makes your vision blurred, double vision, or patchy images which appear to float.
• Lights that used to be okay are now too dim for reading, or for doing close-up work, such as painting, drawing and jigsaws.
• You feel dazzled by strong, bright lights.

Also, you may notice that the pupil at the centre of your eyes, which is usually black, has become a milky yellow.

If you think you could have a cataract, don’t worry. The solution is usually simple, painless and effective.

First, make an appointment with your optician, and arrange to get your eyes tested. Optician appointments are free if you are over 60.

If your optician advises that you do indeed have cataracts, then cataract surgery, or IOL, will be arranged. This is a highly skilled, yet simple procedure lasting about 20 minutes and requiring just a local anaesthetic. The surgeon removes the deteriorating lens and replaces it with what’s called an intraocular lens. It’s one of the safest surgeries you can have, and has a spectacular 95% success rate, falling to 85% in those aged over 85.

The recovery time is usually extremely quick, just a day, or two, while your eyes adjust. There is no pain, or discomfort, and you will be amazed at how clearly you can see afterwards.

Of course, cataracts are not the only cause of diminishing vision and there is a wide range of mobility aids and products available on the market which can help.

Other useful reading can be found on the links below:
National Health Service information on cataracts

Royal National Institute of Blind People – advice